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Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities


The Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities (GCDH) meets a growing need among the humanities for training in digital methods by leveraging existing resources at Stanford University. The GCDH program will draw upon the community of expertise in the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA). Over the past several years, dozens of graduate students have taken classes taught by CESTA affiliated faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and participated in workshops and seminars sponsored by CESTA. The CESTA Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities offers a formal structure for this activity, and allows graduate students to acquire and deepen their technical and conceptual skills, as well as to strengthen their position in the competitive job market within and beyond the academy.

The GCDH seeks to strike a balance between the cultivation of technical skills and their practical application within project-based Digital Humanities research. The program is meant to be relatively lightweight in terms of specific requirements and flexible as to content and timing in order to best support the work students are doing in their home departments. Core classes and exposure to the CESTA research community will ensure that students leave the program with solid skills and the experience of learning in a cohort environment.

Completion of the program will result in a Certificate, signed by the CESTA Director and the Chair of the graduate student’s home department, and, through the program, the student will also develop a digital portfolio suitable for the job market.

Course work

Students will be expected to complete one GCDH-approved graduate core course for a letter grade, and one additional approved elective course. The approved core courses for the first year of the program are:

  • Spatial History (HIST 401A)
  • Literary Lab (ENG 303C)
  • Humanities+Design (CLASSICS 396, DLCL 396, HISTORY 336E)

Students who have completed any of the core courses, or equivalent courses taught by members of CESTA, in past years are eligible to move forward to the next step in the GCDH program.

Following or concurrent with the completion of the required core course, students must complete the following two certificate components (a & b):

  • a) Additional coursework (1 or more classes, may be taken pass/fail, must be approved in advance by the committee in charge) in computer science, information design, statistics, network analysis, linguistics, or other fields approved by the student’s supervisor and the CESTA committee in charge. A list of course recommendations is forthcoming.
  • b) Independent research project and portfolio including a finished project which will be evaluated and approved by both an Academic Council supervisor and be accepted as an affiliated project in one of CESTA’s labs. The duration of such projects must be a minimum of 1 academic quarter. Students may take up to 5 units of credit as directed reading for the purpose of completing the independent research project. Final projects will be included in the student’s e-portfolio and published on the CESTA website.


  • Supervised collaborative research in a CESTA lab with the expectation that the student’s participation culminates in a DH product substantially of the authorship of the student—2 quarters minimum duration. The student’s portion of the research will be included in the e-portfolio and published on the CESTA website.


The GCDH program is staffed primarily by CESTA. Core faculty include Mark Algee-Hewitt, Franco Moretti, Richard White, Dan Edelstein, Paula Findlen, Giovanna Ceserani, Walter Scheidel, Elaine Treharne, Amir Eshel, and Zephyr Frank. Affiliated CESTA faculty include Allyson Hobbs, Edith Scheffer, Caroline Winterer, Mark McGurl, Ana Minian, and Mikael Wolfe. The CGDH co-directors are Zephyr Frank and Mark Algee-Hewitt.

Technical expertise is provided by CESTA staff members and the extended CESTA community. Included in this group are the following: Celena Allen (GIS), Erik Steiner (visualization design and cartography), Ryan Heuser (programming), Nicole Coleman (information design and visualization), and Karl Grossner (information design and cartography).

To Apply:

Admission to the program is on a rolling basis, and students may apply at any time. Please submit a letter of interest and any supporting information to

Frequently Asked Questions


Who can apply to the program?

  • The program is currently limited to students currently enrolled in a graduate program at Stanford. We may open up the program to outside participants at a later date.

How long is the program?

  • Typically two years, but may vary based on each student’s particular situation. The maximum time for completing the certificate is four years.

I have no digital humanities experience at all. Should I apply if I am interested?

  • By all mean, yes. One of the main goals of the program is to provide digital humanities experience, knowledge, and tools to future graduates. Both core and elective courses are designed to both introduce students who have no prior experience with digital scholarship, as well as provide opportunities for students who have worked in the digital humanities with outlets for more advanced work.

Will I produce a final product?

  • Yes, you are expected to produce an e-portfolio project by the end of the certificate program, which will either be your own independent research project or a clearly defined contribution to an existing CESTA project.

Will anything show up on my transcript?

  • No, Stanford does not indicate certificates on transcripts. You will, however, receive a certificate of completion signed by both the CESTA Director and your home department Chair. You will also be listed on the CESTA website as having completed the program.


How many courses will I have to take?

  • You must take one approved core course for a letter grade and one approved elective, or two approved core courses. Electives must be approved in advance by the GCDH committee and may be taken pass/fail.

Do the courses have to be taken in a particular order?

  • No. You may take either the elective or core course first and you may begin work on the required project at any point during your participation in the certificate program.

Can I apply courses that I have already taken toward the certificate?

  • Yes. You can submit courses that you have taken to the GCDH committee for approval as either a core course (if taken prior to the 2017-18 academic year) or an elective course (which can be taken at any time).

Can I suggest an elective course for approval?

  • Yes. You may submit elective courses suggestions to the GCDH committee for approval.

Do you know what quarters, days, and times the core classes are being offered next year? Is it the same as previous years?

  • Please note that final details for scheduling these courses for the coming 2017-18 academic year are still in progress in the respective home departments.


Who will be my advisor for the independent lab project?

  • You may choose any faculty member on the Stanford campus as your CGDH advsisor, and they do not need to have specific digital humanities knowledge. However,  your project must be approved by the GCDH co-directors.

I have my own project that I want to pursue. How do I decide what CESTA lab my project will be affiliated with?

  • The GCDH committee will be available to discuss your project with you once you have formulated your ideas. They will work with both you and the heads of the various labs to find the best fit for your project.

How will the independent lab project be evaluated?

  • Evaluation will be done in consultation with your supervisor and be based upon your work during your participation in the project, your final e-portfolio, and the presentation of your work during the yearly GCDH colloquium.

What is the GCDH Colloquium?

  • At the end of each academic year, CESTA will host a half-day colloquium with invited scholars from the Digital Humanities community both from inside and outside of Stanford. Students who have completed their work on the GCDH will demonstrate their work to their fellow GCDH members, members of CESTA, the student’s Academic Council supervisor, and the invited guests in a 20 minute presentation. This will give you the opportunity to not only show off your work on the project, but will also allow you to meet other member of the DH community.